It was a whirlwind, but it was totally worth it.
For one thing, we were able to take a first-ever photo of ALL the grandchildren! We have previous editions...but either some grandkids weren't born yet, or we were missing some of the young adults. Here they ALL are!
And here they are looking more like they normally do.
One with Grandma and Grandpa...
...and one with me, my brothers, and my parents.
On Sunday morning, we all dressed up and went to the First Baptist Church, where my family has attended for generations.
B15 can't pass a piano without trying it out. :)
Pilot Brother and his Caterer/Coffee Shop Owner wife provided all the food for lunch, snacks, dinner and of course, birthday cake!
"Johnny Q-Whistle Paperlegs" is what the hired man called my dad when he was a kid. "John Henry Dewberry Brown" was another nickname he was saddled with, by his uncle, but the first one is even more colorful, don't you think?
Dinner was a wiener roast!
While we were toasting marshmallows for s'mores, I snapped this picture of the sunset. The trees in this woods are the scenery of my childhood--the backdrop to so many of my memories.
I was pleased with all that was captured in this next photo too. This is the view from the woods behind our house, looking toward the back of the house. The lit-up room is the addition that my parents put on about 15 years ago to their 1960's ranch, in anticipation of gatherings like these. In the foreground, you can see two ropes--one is a swinging rope, the other is to the tire swing that has occupied kids and grandkids for decades on end. With its headlights shining on a car in the driveway, that's a Toro Twister driving across the yard toward the house. My brother and dad use it for all kinds of tasks around the farm, as well as giving rides to the grandkids! Finally, the light directly above the Twister is a utility pole light that comes on every evening at dusk, and has been since I was a kid catching fireflies in its glow.
We wrapped up our day by watching old 8 mm movies. Some of them were 70 years old or more! In the first one, my dad was a kid in swimming trunks playing with a garden hose. It was easy to see where the hired man got the "paperlegs" part of his moniker--Dad's legs were paper white compared to the rest of him! And my, those legs looked familiar--just like Chicklet12's, right now. He was probably her age in the movie, but several of his grandchildren got his long, lean musculature. I had not realized how much B19 resembled his grandfather and great-grandfather, either!
It was wonderful to see relatives and friends, and also the way the farm used to be--where the fences were, and the old gas tank, and the chicken yard, and the barn without the milk house, and the farmhouse without the front porch, and cows grazing where now there are no fences, and the trees! Today it would take two people to wrap their arms around some of the trunks, but back then one person could have, easily.
It's a neat feeling to be connected to a place so deeply. I'm so thankful that my brother and his family have relocated there, giving us ongoing reasons to keep visiting there, and Lord willing, to keep the farm going and keep it in the family. I'm thankful that his children get to grow up there, that they have the run of the place the way my brothers and I did, growing up, and that my younger kids have cousins to visit when we go there.
And I'm thankful for my dad, and his milestone birthday, for giving this goofy bunch a reason to get together and celebrate being us!